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The Three Sisters trails is a hiking route that ascends the middle peak of the Three Sisters (Mount Trinity) to the highest peak visible from Fernie, BC.

You’ll be deep in Fernie wilderness once you arrive at the trailhead for the Three Sisters summit. The hike is a consistent uphill walk and occasional scramble over shale rock. The mountain peaks of Mount Fernie, Mount Proctor and Mount Hosmer will be mostly unrecognisable as you observe them from this unique perspective.

This trail is often done as a (much recommended) detour along Heiko’s Trail via the Hartley Lake Road access.

Three Sisters Trail

The Three Sisters trail from Heiko's Trail Junction is a relatively short hike, however the access to the trailhead is hike-in only and adds significant distance and elevation gain to the adventure. Allow at least a full day to bag this peak. 

Difficulty Level: Difficult
Elevation Gain: 1671ft (509m)
Average Time: Approximately 2 hours one way from Heiko's Trail Junction
Length: 2km to peak from Heiko's Trail Junction

NOTE: There are no services or specific camping areas along this trail.

Don't forget to pick up a Fernie Trail Map before your hike. TrailForks users can track their progress and location along this hike, if they have GPS on their mobile device, using the Trailforks app, and the route for Three Sisters.

This section is high up in the alpine with no shelter – you will be fully exposed to the elements. Hikers should be prepared for sudden weather changes and pack appropriate extra clothing and equipment. Poles are highly recommended

Trailhead Access

This trail is typically good to hike starting late-June to mid-September, depending on snow levels and early snowfalls. You can expect to see some snow in high reaches anytime during the summer season, with much remaining from winter. We recommend calling into the Visitor Information Centre to get an update on trail status before leaving.

There are a number of options to reach the Three Sisters trailhead. The most recommended, shortest and easiest access is via Hartley Lake Road via Heiko’s Trail.

Hartley Lake Road Access via Heiko's Trail

Difficulty Level: Difficult
Elevation Gain: 4756 feet
Average Time: Approximately 8hrs round trip
Length: 10.7 km one-way

The beauty of this route is that you have the opportunity to enjoy the amazing viewpoints offered through the beginning of Heiko’s Trail, including a waterfall, cave and alpine meadows, and old-growth forest.

The trail begins off of Hartley Lake Road at the trailhead for Heiko’s Trail. Starting at the North Fernie Bridge over the Elk River, proceed east along Highway 3 for 5.3 km to Dicken Road. Turn left onto Dicken Road and proceed for 600m. Turn right onto Hartley Lake Road and continue on this rough, 2-wheel drive gravel road for 9 km. You will pass the turn off for Hartley Lake, continue uphill and around the top of the lake and the road will shortly descend for 2.8km. Look out for the 7km markers sign and turn left into the first Heiko’s Trail Parking area. Heiko’s main trailhead begins 1.5km up a steep, rugged and narrow 4x4 trail. There is a second parking area which can only be accessed by a high-clearance 4x4 truck.

Be aware that cell coverage is limited in this area beyond Hartley Lake The first half of this trail, through an old-growth forest is easy to follow. As the trail leaves the forest, the views open up as it enters a meadow and heads west. At the edge of the meadow, near Olivia Creek, there is a primitive campsite. Red triangles on the far side of the meadow mark where the well-defined trail resumes. From the meadow, the trail begins to climb steeply. Take care, as this steep section is slippery when wet. Until the Sulphur Creek basin is reached, the trail continues to be challenging and care must be taken. After this rugged section, the trail enters the meadow at the top of Sulphur Creek, where another primitive backcountry campsite can be found. In this area, the trail passes near an area with sink-holes, caves and huge limestone boulders that have tumbled off the shoulder of the Three Sisters. From Sulphur Creek, it is an easy hike up a good trail to the pass where the trail forks right for the continuation of Heiko’s Trail to Island Lake Lodge or left towards to the start of the Three Sisters trail.

Hartley Lake Road Access via Olivier Creek

Difficulty Level: Very Difficult
Elevation Gain: 4127ft (1258m) 
Average Time: Approximately 8hrs round trip
Length: 8.1 km one-way

An alternative route to the Three Sisters is via the Three Sisters Trail. This is best suited to stronger experienced hikers as the trail is less well defined, and you'll be approaching via steep and loose rocky climbs and traverses. The Olivier Creek Road access off Hartley Lake Road requires a 4x4 vehicle with high ground clearance. Drive 5.3 kilometres east on Hwy 3 from the north-east end of Fernie and turn left onto Dicken Road. After 600 metres turn right up Hartley Lake Road (not signed, yard on each side of the road) and drive another 9 kilometres on this windy dirt road pasting Hartley Lake on your left. Olivia Creek will be marked with a Fernie Trails Alliance trail post on your left side. Proceed along this 4x4 trail for approximately 1.5km until you reach the first clearing. Park here and proceed up the 4x4 road for another 2.5km on foot until you connect with the Olivier Creek Trail heading towards the Three Sister's Trail.

Island Lake Lodge Access via Heiko's Trail

Difficulty Level: Extreme
Elevation: 4763ft (1451m)
Average Time: Approximately 12hrs round trip
Length: 9.8 km one-way

You can also access Heiko's Trail to Three Sisters Trailhead via Island Lake Lodge. Begin climbing up the Tamarack Trail. You'll climb over a rockfield passing a few viewpoints of the Cedar Valley before starting a series of switchbacks up towards the top where Heiko's Trail begins. It's a steady trail from here to Windy Pass. where the trail will fork. Take the left trail heading downhill towards Fairy Creek Meadow and to the base of the Three Sisters.

Mount Fernie Access via Rocky Road

Difficulty Level: Extreme
Elevation Gain: 5896ft (1797m)
Average Time: Approximately 14-16hrs round trip
Length: 14.5km one-way

This is a monster trip begins in town and follows the trail up to the ridge tops of Mount Fernie. At the top bench join Rocky Road trail for 4km ridge traverse to Windy Pass. The signpost at Windy Pass will highlight three trail options. Turn back on yourself and take the downhill trail to Heiko’s Trail leading to Fairy Creek Meadow and to the base of the Three Sisters.

History

At 2788m (9147 ft), the Three Sisters is the highest mountain visible from Fernie, making it a popular objective in the area for both hikers and photographers alike. The mountain was officially named the Three Sisters in 1959. Mount Trinity is another name used to refer to the mountain, however, it is rare to hear it called by this name. With regards to the Three Sisters, legend has it that an Indian Chief was enamoured by three maidens and could not decide which one he would choose as a bride. When the elder chiefs asked the gods for their help in making this decision, the gods punished their indecisiveness by turning the young chief into a mountain (Mount Proctor). Upon hearing about this, the grief of the maidens was so great that they asked the gods to turn them into a mountain also – and so became the Three Sisters in Fernie. 

As with any trip into the backcountry be well prepared for weather changes. And remember that you are travelling in an area where wildlife is abundant. Be aware of your surrounding, follow the proper safety protocol and respect the environment.

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